This weekend i finally made it to the expo site. Of course the expo is a long and thoroughly debated topic here on this forum, so I don't need to get deeper into that matter. But there is one thing that left me puzzled.
This happened when I went to the African Restaurant. On the Ground level, they have a fast food like restaurant, offering meals which are supposed to be a hybrid of African food and Chinese cuisine. I think the best way to offer something the majority of visitors can enjoy, since there are 90% Chinese visitors. But then. I remember I watched a preview on Expo restaurants some time around March or April, where they briefly introduced the African restaurant. They were showing a buffet. So I went on to check for that. The one I saw on television looked typical African to me, and the cook was Introduced as a guy from Sambia. OK. Here I am now. With my Chinese Family trying to give
them a flavor of African food. We were totally 5 people.
We went upstairs to that buffet place and I was surprised. After checking
I could only find 1 real African dish, which is Jolof rice. I think everybody who
has been to Africa will know this delicious dish originally from Senegal, now
popular all over the continent. But then. only Arab dishes. Kous Kous, Humus, etc.
So Iooked out for the cook. Guess what I found. An Arab. He told me If I want to
I need to talk to his boss. Who was not present. So a very heated conversation began.
me as an African,. who wants to show his Chinese Family some variety of African food,
A Chinese manager and some Arab cook.
Me: Why you write African restaurant outside on the wall and sell Arab food?
Chinese Manager: He is African, he is from Egypt I think.
Me: OK,where are the African dishes, you want me to pay 200RMB for?
Chinese Manager: they are all here?
Me: I see exactly one African Dish. All others are Arab.
Chinese Manager: Yes, but that one is very good.
Me: Where are other ones like. Fufu, Pepper soup, Plantain, Ocra, Yam, Gari?
Chinese Manager: We have so many.
Me: You just agreed you have only 1.
Chinese Manager: yes, but that is very good
Me: Why don't you write outside Mixed specialities
instead of cheating people for their money. I think my
Chinese family are not the only ones who want real African food.
Chinese Manager: Please i don't like that word cheating.
Me: So what are you doing then?
Chinese Manager: We offer so many good food. We don't cheat.
Me: Anything African? No, So you do cheat. or don't you charge
200/person for the real deal? I mean people who want mixed food
are going for the Chinese African Hybrid downstairs.
Chinese Manager: I don't like you to be using that word.
Arab cook: Talk to my boss.
Me: is he African?
Chinese Manger: Yes he's from Egypt. He is from Africa.
Me: Geographically yes. So are white South Africans.
Ask an Egyptian if he's Arab ob African you will see the answer.
Chinese Manager: But Egypt is in Africa.
Me: Count how many African dishes?
Chinese Manager: 1
After that I left. Honestly this is a cheat. If the price would be 20RMB per dish and they wouldn't advertise it as authentic I really wouldn't talk. But this is another shameful practice of stupid management who think people are stupid enough to make a buck or two from them.
On the contrast I have seen Doner restaurants on Hong Mei Lu operated by a Chinese who offers a very authentic product, even he has never been to Turkey or Germany, but you can see he did his research and perfected his skills.
This place at the Expo site is a disgraceful tourist trap that could have just been a great place for the purpose such an Expo is made for. Bring cultures together. It just doesn't work if you fake it.